Baked Eggplant Stacks

The farmer’s market has been overflowing lately. Eggplant has yet to be in season in New Jersey, but since it’s a favorite of my husband’s I decided to use this hearty vegetable to make an easy weeknight favorite that looks like you spent hours over the stove. It’s also one of those dishes that seems unhealthy, but is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.

At last week’s farmer’s market,  I was able to pick up an amazing bunch of organic basil (which I continue to find uses for), a lush ‘Ugly Jersey’ tomato, fresh red onions, and homemade mozzarella. I’m a huge fan of bruschetta and tend to have it in my fridge as another salsa during the summer. It brightens up everything from a sandwich to eggs and works equally well at livening up the baked eggplant to transform it into a light and delicious summer meal. You can serve as is or with a simple salad.

Tip: If you are planning ahead, try to soak the sliced eggplant in water with salt overnight in the fridge. My Italian friend wouldn’t have it any other way.

Baked Eggplant StacksServes 4

Ingredients:

1 Large Eggplant
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup panko
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Herbs de’ Provence
1/2 cup olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
2 large, ripe tomato
1/4 red onion
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/2 cup of thinly sliced mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste
Grated pecorino romano

Set the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the breadcrumbs, panko, red pepper flakes, Herbs de’ Provence, salt and pepper in a bowl. Dip the sliced eggplant into the egg mixture than the breadcrumb mixture and place on a nonstick baking sheet (I like to use silicone baking sheets, but you can also use parchment). Drizzle the eggplant slices with olive oil. Place in the oven for 11 minutes until crispy, then flip and bake for another 5-7 minutes. Be sure that the slices don’t burn.

In another bowl, coursely chop the tomato, basil, and red onion. Grate the garlic into the bowl. Add the balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil (good quality), salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Once out of the oven, let cool. Slice the tomato into thin pieces. Place an eggplant slice on a baking sheet, top with a piece of mozzarella and basil, then another eggplant slice, a mozzarella and tomato slice, an eggplant slice. Repeat with the remaining pieces of eggplant. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes until the cheese has melted. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.

Top the eggplant stacks with grated pecorino romano cheese and the tomato mixture (aka the bruschetta). Sit back and enjoy the “yums” that you’re about to hear 🙂

Non-Stick Honey – Yes It Exists!

As you may know already, I’m a fan of honey. A huge fan of honey. I have over 10 different types of honey in my cabinet from organic, to spicy, to Maine blackberry and I love them all. Everytime I’m out, I have to take a look at the latest honey products, especially during farmer’s markets.

Nektar Natural Honey CrystalsI put honey in almost everything from yogurt, tea, barbecue sauce, salsa, ice cream – you name it, I’ve probably tried it with honey (ok maybe not everything – but you get my point). So when I was given the chance to try Nektar Naturals Honey Crystals™ I jumped on it. I had heard a bit about the new product from other bloggers, namely Jersey Bites, but had yet to see and try it. And it doesn’t hurt that Nektar Naturals is from a neighboring town.

Jeremy Edelman, Founder and President of Nektar Naturals based in Belmar, NJ and his associate Andrew was nice enough to send over a box for me to sample and I’m so glad he did! I wasn’t expecting the honey to be completely granulated, even though that’s the website boasted. They’re similar to the look and feel of the Raw Sugar packets, but instead of processed sugar, it’s 100% all natural grade A granulated honey! One packets equals one teaspoon of honey but without the sticky mess. I think it’s perfect when you can’t bring your jars of honey along for teas on the go – where were they years ago!

I added the honey to my tea that evening and it disolved quickly, giving my tea the same taste of honey that I would have received if I had added some of my liquid honey. The next day, I decided to make some homemade rhubarb jam, substituting a quarter of the sugar with the honey packets. The result was delicious!

Besides jam and tea, I’ve been adding Nekat’s Honey Crystals™ to homemade baked beans, greek yogurt, and even my margarita! I’m not a coffee drinker, but I would love to hear from others whether it’s tasty in coffee as well.

Not only are they convenient, but if you haven’t read my previous posts about honey then I’ll give you some reminders. Honey is low in the glycemic index (which means you get a jolt in energy without the insulin jump that you would from sugar), contains natural antioxidents, polyphenals, and electrolytes, and also contains anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-septic qualities. It’s known as a superfood because it contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and selenium.

Basically, honey should be added to your diet and if the only reason you didn’t deal with honey before was because you didn’t like getting messy, well Nektar Naturals™ has made that excuse obsolete.  To find out where you get your box of honey crystals, visit here.

And be sure to let me know what you’re doing with your honey!